Advice for Sailing & Powered Craft

Before going to sea or on the River – ask yourself how well am I prepared to deal with sod’s law – ‘if something can go wrong, it will go wrong’ and usually at the worst possible time.

Are you and crew fit for purpose with suitable clothing both waterproof and warm, lifejackets, navigation & boat handling skills up to scratch.

How well can you deal with the unexpected – the engine that fails, the weather that changes dramatically, snagged on rocks, man overboard, lost in fog or at night!

Its time like this that you need total confidence in your emergency kit, both personal and for your craft and importantly know how to use it. If new to the activity joining a relevant club can be a great way to acquire skills and learn from other peoples experience.

Do you know what to expect from the weather plus the state of the tides.

Does your lifejacket do its job and suitable for the activity eg: buoyancy aid for jetski’s whereas sailors and boat based anglers should look at a lifejacket of the waistcoat type with automatic inflation when in the water. Specification should be a minimum of 150 Newtons and should be regularly serviced. If you do end up in the water you need to make yourself as visible as possible by waving arms or anything else to hand as its not easy to see someone in the water especially in a choppy sea.

Engines need regular maintenance and routine checks made before going to sea with spare fuel, spark plugs, fully charged battery, auxiliary engine and anything else needed for your craft. At the start of the season or the boat is new to you do a shake down local run to make sure everything works Ok – if you have a failure at least you are near to base.

Can you call for help if needed – a VHF radio is best, plus know how to use it, particularly as they are reliable and you can be tracked. Mobile phones can be a backup but need to be waterproofed and have major limitations particularly if you can’t get a signal. A powerful torch can make all the difference at night or poor visibility. Always let someone know of where you are going and time of return and know how to summon help.

Emergency Flares can be lifesavers but need care in use plus be regularly checked to see if in date. Out of date flares should be given to your local HM Coastguard for disposal, any other method is illegal.

Anchors can be of various sorts and can make a real difference especially if power has been lost.

Whistles, torch, small compass, knife are easily carried and can make a real difference in addition spare warm clothes, emergency cache of food, drinking water, sun block & hat, spare batteries.

Getting to sea and back on shore – how familiar are you with the landing beach – do you know where its safe to recover from and at what state of the tide. Its easy to get stuck on New Brighton beach and can prove to be expensive.

If your vehicle gets bogged down on the beach the RNLI will not be able to help.In the past we have been sued for damage to vehicles that would have ended up under water and written off had we not helped and as a charity we are no longer willing to take such risks.

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